However you slice it — from May 1 or from June 15 — the summer months haven't been a great time to be long in equities. The seasonal downturn has given rise to the market adage "sell in May and go away."
But if you choose carefully, you could stay — and profit. We used Kensho, a tool designed to quantify historical market events, to find the best summer trades over the last decade that have outperformed a historically listless market. We looked for the leading S&P 500 stocks from May 1 to Oct. 31.
Curiously enough, the top trades go pretty well with summer activities. First, the "BBQ" stocks. Food, beverage and tobacco stocks have been reliable winners during the warmest months. Cigarette-maker Reynolds American and spirits manufacturer Constellation Brands have averaged double-digit returns from May to October over the last 10 years.